The Squid and the Whale,
This review is from: The Squid And The Whale [DVD]  (DVD)
Before Zuckerberg...There was Eisenberg...
Not often can a film be so bitter and so funny. The Squid and the Whale tells the story of two arrogant and stubborn parents who split their family right down the middle. The father Bernard Buckham (Daniels) is the former great now on a steady decline whilst his wife Joan (Linney) is a rising literary star. The tensions and dynamics and beautifully crafted. It is of little wonder why Noah Baumbach received an Academy Award for best original screenplay.
Like many, my parents are divorced and like many I can remember it happening. It wasn't quite like depicted in the film but it is still a matter I can relate to. The characters are so perfectly human in all their flaws and traits that it is impossible not to impart affection toward them.
Jeff Daniels is one of a fast growing list of comic actors that have proven they can also act very well in a traditional manner on screen. His portrayal of the bitter father, staunch in his belief but ultimately a man who contradicts himself comes across very well.
I feel however one of my favourite screen presences, Laura Linney, steals the show whenever the camera is near her. As Joan she gives us the underlying problems in the marriage and truths that Bernard would rather not face the reality of. In an instant she can put the man in his place.
The story however is really about the sons; Walt (Eisenberg) and Frank (Kline) who play off each other superbly. We are now familiar with Eisenberg's style, his awkward looks and almost monotone low key voice and this is where it all started. Walt takes after his father, and Frank takes more after his mother and the two become split into factions. Kline is hilarious as the experimental twelve year old, drinking whiskey, throwing up and masterbating into socks.
Eisenberg is also amusing if only for his awkwardness and perfection of the nerdy character.
The entire film is shot on Super 16mm using a handheld camera and coupled with the soundtrack gives the feature a charmingly 1980s feel. This film really is a joy, it is bitter, tragic, sweet and has moments of genuine comedy. The acting is of a high standard and the screenplay is just awesome. If you like heartwarming cinema with true acting and true writing then don't hesitate to add this to your wish list.